Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sugar Cookies + Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween, everyone!!  I wanted to share these awesome sugar cookies with you. They're just regular sugar cookies, topped with buttercream frosting (dyed purple, of course), and topped with some Halloween-themed sprinkles.

I found the this recipe on the blog Sweetcakes Bakeshop.  Please check it out over there for the recipe!

Need some more Halloween/fall recipes?  Check these out!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Halloween Rice Krispie Treats

Chocolate Halloween Bark

Monday, October 29, 2012

Banana Bread

Today we're starting to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  Sean, Maeby, and I will be hunkering down for the next couple of days.  If any of you are also in the storm's path, I hope that you will all stay safe!

A couple of weeks ago, I had a surplus of bananas that were rapidly becoming very ripe.  Banana bread was the logical choice to use up the bananas before they went bad.

This recipe was found on the blog Not Enough Cinnamon.

You'll need:

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 tbs) butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Spoon flour into measuring cups and level off with a knife.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk together.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the banana, yogurt, and vanilla.  Beat until blended.  Add the flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on a wire rack.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chocolate Halloween Bark

For once, I thought I'd be on the ball and show you some holiday-related treats before the holiday.  Radical notion, I know.  Sean and I are having a Halloween party this weekend, and this is one of the tasty noms we'll be enjoying.

I was inspired to make this chocolate bark after seeing this recipe on Live, Love, Pasta.

You'll need:

Reese's Pieces
Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
24 oz. milk chocolate
12 oz. white chocolate

Start by lining a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Scatter the wax paper with the candy.  Using your thumb, squish the peanut butter cups down so that they are about the same height as the Reese's Pieces.

Melt the milk chocolate (either in the microwave in 30 second increments or using a double boiler on the stove) and spread it evenly over the candy with an offset spatula.

Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 20-30 minutes until the chocolate hardens.

After the milk chocolate hardens, melt the white chocolate.  Spread it evenly on top of the milk chocolate.  

Then, add sprinkles!  Since we're having a Halloween party, I naturally went with black and orange.

Put the cookie sheet back into the freezer to let the white chocolate harden.  Once it firms up, break the bark into pieces.  It doesn't have to be perfect.

Store it in the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bourbon Rosemary Icepick

Finally, alcoholic beverages make a return to Thirsty Thursday!

I got this recipe from my friend, Chrisdine.  Makes 1 cocktail.

You'll need:

8 oz. iced green tea
rosemary sprigs (for brewing and garnish)
2 oz. bourbon
agave nectar, to taste

Steep your green tea with a couple of sprigs of rosemary.  

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add tea (sans rosemary), bourbon, and agave nectar.  Shake well.

Strain into a glass with fresh ice.  Garnish with another sprig of rosemary.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

This recipe was modified from the recipe on the blog The Fig Tree.

You'll need:

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave some overhang on all sides.  Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.  Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.  Beat in the puree next.  The original recipe notes that the mixture will look a bit curdled, and that this is completely normal.

Reduce the mixer's speed to low, and add the dry ingredients little by little.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.  Allow them to cool, cut into squares, and enjoy!!

These blondies are a bit too good.  You have been forewarned.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Happy Thirsty Thursday, everyone!  I have another non-alcoholic beverage for you.

You'll need:

2 tbs cocoa powder
2 tbs sugar
salt, small pinch
1 tbs hot water
1 cup milk*
marshmallows or whipped cream, optional

Add the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and water to a pan.  Stir to combine.  

Slowly add the milk and bring to a near-boil.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Whisk it all around to make everything frothy. Add marshmallows/whipped cream, if you desire, and drink up!

*Works with almond milk, too!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Penne with Pumpkin Sauce

Since no one voted on the blog's Facebook page about whether you'd like to see a sweet or savory pumpkin recipe next, you're getting a savory one!  This is mostly because I had this one ready to go, and the pumpkin blondies aren't quite ready to be posted =).  Look for those soon!

Recipe modified from the one on Heat Oven to 350.

You'll need:

1 box penne pasta
2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. canned pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
pinch of cinnamon
salt, to taste
parmesan cheese, for garnish

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. 

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan.  Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant.  Add the can of pumpkin, broth, and ricotta cheese.  Stir to combine.  Simmer for several minutes, and things will start to thicken up.  Add the pinch of cinnamon (Which sounds weird, I know.  But trust me, it works.) and salt, to taste.

Once the pasta is done, drain it add it to the sauce.  Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese, and dig in! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Boiled Chestnuts

During my parents' last visit to Baltimore, my dad was nice enough to bring me some chestnuts from home.  If you don't have a tree in your yard, or don't know anyone who does, you can pick chestnuts up from the grocery store.  You'll find them in bulk bins when the holidays roll around.

You'll need:

a pot of water

Simple enough, right?  Start out by laying your chestnuts on a kitchen towel (the towel helps keep things from sliding around), flat side down.  Then, cut an X onto the bottoms of the chestnut with a very sharp paring knife, like so:

Put the chestnuts in a pot and cover them with water.  Turn the heat on, and allow it to come to a boil.  Boil for 5-10 minutes.  Let the chestnuts cool in the water, until you are just able to handle them.  

Peel the shells and skin from the chestnuts.  It really is easiest to do this when they're still warm.  Discard any that are blotchy and weird looking on the outside.

Just a word of caution, they can be pretty tough to keep in one piece during the peeling process.  So don't be bummed out if yours are all crumbly.  They may not be as pretty that way, but they still taste great!  They're sweet, and have a really interesting, but pleasant, mouthfeel.  

I like to just eat them as is, but take a look on Foodgawker for some other ideas if you'd like to make something else out of them.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies

Happy Thirsty Thursday, everyone!  Now, I realize that this is not an alcoholic beverage.  But I haven't been doing much drinking lately, so today you're getting a healthy, seasonal, smoothie.
  This recipe was found on the blog Total Noms.  Makes 1 large smoothie.

You'll need:

1 cup plain almond milk
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 banana, frozen
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 ice cubes

If you have some extra time, soak your oats in the almond milk for 15-20 minutes.  It's not necessary, but it will help to make your smoothie more... smooth.

Other than that, all you need to do is place everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink up!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This soup really couldn't be simpler to make.  And not only is it easy, it's good for you, too.

You'll need:

1 butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cubed
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
chili powder, garlic powder, or whatever spices you'd like
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (maybe a bit more, depending on what consistency you prefer)
roasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional; recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put your cubed butternut squash and garlic in a zip top bag along with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and your other seasonings.  Close it and toss everything around until all of the squash is coated. 

Put this on a baking sheet (or two) lined with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the squash is tender and slightly browned.

Remove it from the oven and either put everything, along with the broth, into a pot on the stovetop, or into a blender.  If you are going the stovetop route, use an immersion blender to puree everything to your desired consistency.  If you're using a blender, just blend until things look how you'd like.  You may need to add a bit more broth if you want a thinner soup.

Top with some roasted pumpkin seeds, and enjoy!

Roasted pumpkin seeds

You'll need:
pumpkin seeds
cooking spray
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  

Separate the seeds from all of the other gunk that's inside the pumpkin or squash.  Spread the seeds on a baking sheet, and spray them with cooking spray.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.

Bake for 25 minutes, stirring them around after about the 10 minute mark.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Baked Macaroni & Cheese w/ Cauliflower

I know I've been trying to post some healthier recipes, but this one was too good to not share.  It's hearty and comforting, and is loaded with an obscene amount of cheese.  I made it when my parents were visiting last weekend, and it went over very well.  It's perfect a perfect dish for fall and winter.

Adapted from the recipe on One Perfect Bite.

You'll need:


1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
1 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Cheese sauce
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
2 tbs dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheese (or if you're like me, just add an embarrassing amount of cheese)

The rest
1 box short cut pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
1 cup shredded cheese
bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray that with cooking spray.  Set both aside.

Place the cauliflower florets, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper into a zip top bag.  Toss it all around until the florets are coated.  Put them on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake the cauliflower for 30 minutes, and make sure to toss the cauliflower around at the 15 minute mark to ensure even browning.

Meanwhile, to make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot.  Whisk in the flour to form a paste.  Add the milk slowly, whisking as you add it.  After some whisking, the sauce should start to thicken.  Add the mustard, salt, and pepper, and whatever other spices you think might be nice.  Stir in the cheese.  

As your sauce is thickening, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  Cook pasta according to directions on the box.  Drain.

Add the pasta and cauliflower to the cheese sauce.  Stir it all up until everything is evenly coated in cheesy goodness.  

Spoon the pasta into the 13x9 inch pan.  Top with additional shredded cheese and some breadcrumbs, sprinkled evenly over the top.  Bake for 30 minutes, covered with foil.  Uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  

Spoon some into a bowl, top with hot sauce (just my suggestion, but it's awesome), and dig in!!